Health Kick Got You Hurting? Tips for muscle recovery

New year, new you! We’ve all, at some point, committed to the resolution of trying a new sport, improving fitness levels or eating less junk food. Whether you're back in the gym for the first time since COVID or you're just trying to work off the holiday weight, a sudden change or increase in a exercise can be brutal. If your health kick has got you hurting, we have gathered these tips for muscle recovery. 

Why do muscles hurt? 

While there are a few reasons for post-exercise muscle pain, the primary one is something called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

DOMS occurs when the muscles in our bodies are pushed too hard too fast, causing a stiffness and pain. Thankfully it’s easy to combat and by maintaining a routine of exercise and recovery, you can keep the resolution and stay on track. 

Tips for muscle recovery

Warming down

Stretching before and after exercise has always been something encouraged by sports and health professionals. While a good warm-up can ensure you feel ready for exercise, it’s the warm-down which is much more important.

When you finish a workout, if you go straight back to normal activity then the muscles cool down too quickly, leaving them at risk of DOMS - as well as injury.

Make sure you stretch the muscles exercised, slowly flexing them so the blood flows into the strained area.

Tip: Five to 10 minutes of Yoga at the end of a longer workout is a great way to protect the muscles. 

Hear what former Maroons head coach Kevin Walters during the 2020 State of Origin series. Learn more: Bauerfeind Performance.

Wear compression

When you push yourself physically, muscles vibrate with each movement. The more strenuous the activity, the greater the vibration. When strain on the muscles becomes excessive, they start to fatigue, dehydrate and form micro-tears, leading to pain and stiffness the next day.

Wearing medical grade compression helps to minimise excess vibration as well as increase blood-flow to repair any damage. This practice is commonly used by elite athletes to prevent muscle soreness and pain post-match.

Diet plays a role

“You get out what you put in” is an old adage that holds true for muscle health. Cutting down on saturated fats, salt and sugar helps to reduce strain on the muscles.

The below foods help to boost natural muscle recovery:

  • Nuts and legumes
  • Flax, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • Wholegrain bread

Learn more: Sports Dietitians Australia.

Flexibility also helps with muscle recovery

The ligaments and tendons in your body help guide and move your joints, connecting the bone to muscle and allowing for movement.

Keeping them flexible and limber will reduce the amount of force required by your muscles, allowing for a healthy equilibrium of movement.

Building up flexibility in the ligaments and tendons can be done through practices like yoga and Pilates, and will help your ability to recover from strain and injury, lowering the likelihood of DOMS.

    Bauerfeind compression for muscle recovery

    Featured above: Bauerfiend lower leg compression sleeves

    Take it easy when you need to

    One of the most tempting things is to go straight into a full workout routine, exercising each day or trying to get in shape quickly. What often happens is we push too hard and give up when muscles hurt too much.

    Here are a few tips to slowly build an exercise routine: 

    • Start off with 1 or 2 days a week working out, keeping at least one day of rest between.
    • Go for walks each day, keeping the body moving, even if it’s not strenuous. 
    • Build up over time to the point where you’re working out around 5 days a week, even if they’re just 20 minute routines to begin. 

    Learn more: 5 tips for post workout recovery.

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